1 Chronicles 4:21
The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were, Er the father of Lecah, and Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of them that wrought fine linen, of the house of Ashbea,
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1Chronicles 4:21-23 (omitted by Syriac version).

The Shelanite clans were not noticed in 1 Chronicles 2 (See Genesis 38:5 and 1Chronicles 2:3.)

(21) Er.—This Er who founded Lecah is, of course, distinct from Er “the firstborn of Judah.” Lecah is unknown. Mareshah, a town in the lowlands of Judah, is connected with Caleb (1Chronicles 2:42). Such statements are not contradictory. At different periods different tribal divisions might have been settled in the same city. The present statement need only mean that Mareshah was a Shelanite foundation.

The families of the house of them that wrought fine linen.—“The clans of the house of Byssus work at Beth-Ashbea.” Beth-Ashbea is an unknown place. It was the seat of some Shelanite houses engaged in growing flax and weaving linen. Such industries in ancient times were confined to hereditary guilds, which jealously guarded their methods and trade secrets.

(22) Jokim.—Comp. Jakim (1Chronicles 8:9). Both are probably equivalent to Joiakim (Jehoiakim).

Chozeba.—Perhaps Chezib (Genesis 38:5), called Achzib (Joshua 15:44), the birthplace of Shelah; now the ruins of Kesâba. It was a town of the Shephelah.

And Joash, and Saraph, who had the dominion in Moab.—The passage is obscure, because we know nothing further of Joash and Saraph. The LXX. render the whole verse: “And Joakim, and men of Chozeba, and Joas, and Saraph, who settled in Moab;” adding the meaningless words, καὶ ἀπέστρεψεν αὐτοὺς αβεδηριν αθουκιιν. The word rendered “had the dominion” occurs sixteen times, and in twelve cases at least means “to marry.” Probably Isaiah 26:13, Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 31:32 are not exceptions. The right translation here, therefore, would seem to be “who married Moab,” a metaphor expressing settlement in that country (LXX., κατῴκησαν).

And Jashubi-lehem.—We have here a vestige of some form of the verb shûb (“to return”), as the LXX. (ἀπέστρεψεν) indicates; and “lehem” (Heb., lahem) may either signify “to them,” or represent the second half of the name Bethlehem. Reading (with one MS.) wayyāshûbû, we might translate, and they returned to themselves, i.e., to their Judæan home. (Comp. the story of the sojourn of Elimelech and his family in Moab, and the return of Naomi to Judah.) But Bêth might easily have fallen out before lahem, and if so, the statement is, and they returned to Bethlehem—another point of likeness to the story of the Book of Ruth. (2) Others render, “Reduced Moab and requited them” (way-yashîbû lahem); referring the notice to a supposed subjugation of Moab by two chieftains of Judah. (3) Others, again, have proposed: “Who married into Moab, and brought them home (wives).” (Comp. the story of Mahlon and Chilion in Ruth.) The Vulg. translates all the proper names, and continues: “Qui principes fuerunt in Moab, et qui reversi sunt in Lahem.” (Comp. also Ezra 2:6.)

And these are ancient things.And the events are ancient, that is, those just recounted.

1 Chronicles 4:21. The sons of Shelah — Having spoken of the posterity of Judah by Pharez, and by Zarah, he now comes to his progeny by Shelah. The families of them, that wrought fine linen — From him came all those families that were famous for weaving and working in fine linen; wherewith their kings and priests were clothed.

4:1-43 Genealogies. - In this chapter we have a further account of Judah, the most numerous and most famous of all the tribes; also an account of Simeon. The most remarkable person in this chapter is Jabez. We are not told upon what account Jabez was more honourable than his brethren; but we find that he was a praying man. The way to be truly great, is to seek to do God's will, and to pray earnestly. Here is the prayer he made. Jabez prayed to the living and true God, who alone can hear and answer prayer; and, in prayer he regarded him as a God in covenant with his people. He does not express his promise, but leaves it to be understood; he was afraid to promise in his own strength, and resolved to devote himself entirely to God. Lord, if thou wilt bless me and keep me, do what thou wilt with me; I will be at thy command and disposal for ever. As the text reads it, this was the language of a most ardent and affectionate desire, Oh that thou wouldest bless me! Four things Jabez prayed for. 1. That God would bless him indeed. Spiritual blessings are the best blessings: God's blessings are real things, and produce real effects. 2. That He would enlarge his coast. That God would enlarge our hearts, and so enlarge our portion in himself, and in the heavenly Canaan, ought to be our desire and prayer. 3. That God's hand might be with him. God's hand with us, to lead us, protect us, strengthen us, and to work all our works in us and for us, is a hand all-sufficient for us. 4. That he would keep him from evil, the evil of sin, the evil of trouble, all the evil designs of his enemies, that they might not hurt, nor make him a Jabez indeed, a man of sorrow. God granted that which he requested. God is ever ready to hear prayer: his ear is not now heavy.His wife Hodiah - Not as in the margin, but rather, "the sons of the wife of Hodiah." Hodiah is elsewhere always a man's name Nehemiah 8:7; Nehemiah 9:5; Nehemiah 10:10, Nehemiah 10:13, Nehemiah 10:18. 1Ch 4:21-23. Posterity of Shelah.

21. Laadah … the father … of the house of them that wrought fine linen—Here, again, is another incidental evidence that in very early times certain trades were followed by particular families among the Hebrews, apparently in hereditary succession. Their knowledge of the art of linen manufacture had been, most probably, acquired in Egypt, where the duty of bringing up families to the occupations of their forefathers was a compulsory obligation, whereas in Israel, as in many parts of Asia to this day, it was optional, though common.

Having treated of the posterity of Judah by Pharez, and by Zerah, he now comes to his progeny by

Shelah, of whom see Ge 38.

The sons of Shelah, the son of Judah, were,.... The genealogy of the posterity of Judah, in the lines of Pharez and Zerah, being given, and very largely in that of the former, because of the honour of David, and his kingdom, which sprang from thence, as Jarchi observes, and also the King Messiah, the writer returns to give an account of his posterity by Shelah, a son he had by the daughter of Shuah, Genesis 38:2 and the only one that had children: which were as follow:

Er the father of Lecah: prince of a city of this name in the tribe of Judah; Shelah gave him the name of Er, in memory of his brother, Genesis 38:3,

and Laadah the father of Mareshah; prince of a city of this name in the same tribe, Joshua 15:44.

and the families of the house of them that wrought fine linen, of the house of Ashbea; which last clause explains what house these families were of, which sprang from Shelah, and were employed in making fine linen; the Targum adds, for the garments of kings and priests, or for the curtains of the tabernacle, as Jarchi; for not with the Egyptians and Greeks only fine linen was made, but among the Hebrews, as Pausanias (f) testifies.

(f) Eliac. 1. sive, l. 5. p. 294.

The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were, Er the father of Lecah, and Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of them that wrought fine linen, of the house of Ashbea,
21. Shelah] 1 Chronicles 2:3.

Lecah] an unknown place.

Mareshah] 1 Chronicles 2:42; 2 Chronicles 11:8; Joshua 15:44 (mentioned with Keilah). A town in the south of Judah.

the house of Ashbea] Nothing is known of such a family. We might render, Beth-Ashbea, but nothing is known of such a place.

Verses 21-23. - The first of these verses takes us back to 1 Chronicles 2:3, where the first three of the patriarch Judah's sons are introduced in the genealogy, as Er, Onan, and Shelah; where of Er it is said," He was evil in the sight of the Lord; and he slew him;" and where nothing is added of Onan or Shelah. It would appear now that Shelah gave the name of the slain brother to his son. Respecting this Er of Lecah - with little doubt the name of a place - and Laadah, nothing else can be adduced; but Marebah (1 Chronicles 2:42) is the name of a place in the Shefelah, given in the same passage with Kailah and Nezib (Joshua 15:44; see also 2 Chronicles 11:8; 2 Chronicles 14:9). The fine linen (בּוּצ) here spoken of is, according to Gesenius, equivalent in this passage and in the later Hebrew, to the byssus of the Egyptians (Exodus 26:31; 2 Chronicles 3:14), the שֵׁשׁ, from which the Syrian byssus (Ezekiel 27:16), to which בּוּצ does more strictly apply, is distinguished in some other places. It was of fine texture, costly, and used as the clothing of kings (1 Chronicles 15:27), of priests (2 Chronicles 5:12), and of the very wealthy (Esther 1:6; Esther 8:15). Gesenius says that, after long research and dispute, microscopic investigations in London have concluded that the threads of the cloth of byssus are linen, not cotton. Ashbea (אַשבֵּע) is not yet recognized elsewhere. Jokim. Gesenius considers this name (יוקִים) as a contracted form of יויָקִים (Joiakim) of Nehemiah 12:10. Chozeba. The meaning of this name is "lying;" not found elsewhere, it is probably the same as the אַכזִיב, a town in the tribe of Judah (Genesis 38:5), and that is probably the same as the אַכזִיבּ, of the "valley" list of Judah cities (Joshua 15:44) and of Micah 1:14, where it is mentioned in near connection with the Mareshah, which also accompanies it in the above "valley" list. Joash. This name appears in three forms: יואָשׁ, as in the text and 2 Kings 12:20; יְחואָשׁ, as in 2 Kings 12:1; and יועָשׁ, as in 1 Chronicles 7:8. Seraph. This is the word the plural of which gives us our seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), and is from a root of somewhat uncertain meaning. The different significations to which the root seems to lend itself in the substantive, according as it is used in the singular or plural, are startling (see Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub voce). The apparent meaning of this verse is that there was a time of old, when the above, of whom we can ascertain nothing elsewhere, ruled over Moab. Jerome, in the Vulgate, has made a strange rendering of this verse by translating some of the proper names, and reading at least one of them, the first, as though it were a form in the Hebrew (יָקִים), which it is not: Et qui stare fecit solem, virique Mendacii et Securus et Tircendens, qui principes fuerunt in Moab et qui reversi sunt in Lahem; haec autem verba vetera. Thus Jokim is turned into Elimelech, and the men of Chozeba into Mahlon and Chillon of the Book of Ruth, and Jashubi-lehem into Naomi and Ruth; and the last clause of the verse is equivalent to citing the Book of Ruth. Barrington ('Genealogies,' 1:179) regards Jokim as Shelah's third son in this enumeration; and ethers regard Jashubi-lehem as his fourth son. The preposition לְ prefixed to מואָב and following the verb, is to be noted Ver. 23 brings us to the last of Judah, and leaves us to part with the account of the tribe in the same obscurity which has lately involved it. The plants and hedges are probably an instance of inopportune translation of proper names, which should rather appear as Nelaira and Gedara, the former place or people not found elsewhere, but the latter possibly referred to. Joshua 15:36. Again, who they were that were the potters, is not clear - whether all of the preceding verse, or the last mentioned. From the last clause it may be probably safely concluded, that those designated, whoever they were, were employed habitually in the service, not indeed of one king necessarily, but of the succession of royalty. Passages that may be taken to throw interesting light upon this subject are 1 Chronicles 27:25-31; 2 Chronicles 26:10; 2 Chronicles 27:4; 2 Chronicles 32:27-29. 1 Chronicles 4:21Descendants of Shelah, the third son of Judah, 1 Chronicles 2:3, and Genesis 38:5. - All the families of Judah enumerated in vv. 2-20 are connected together by the conjunction ו, and so are grouped as descendants of the sons and grandsons of Judah named in 1 Chronicles 4:1. The conjunction is omitted, however, before שׁלה בּני, as also before יהוּדה בּני in 1 Chronicles 4:3, to show that the descendants of Shelah form a second line of descendants of Judah, co-ordinate with the sons of Judah enumerated in vv. 1-19, concerning whom only a little obscure but not unimportant information has been preserved. Those mentioned as sons are Er (which also was the name of the first-born of Judah, 1 Chronicles 2:3.), father of Lecah, and Laadan, the father of Mareshah. The latter name denotes, beyond question, a town which still exists as the ruin Marash in the Shephelah, Joshua 15:44 (see on 1 Chronicles 2:42), and consequently Lecah (לכה) also is the name of a locality not elsewhere mentioned. The further descendants of Shelah were, "the families of the Byssus-work of the house of Ashbea," i.e., the families of Ashbea, a man of whom nothing further is known. Of these families some were connected with a famous weaving-house or linen (Byssus) manufactory, probably in Egypt; and then further, in 1 Chronicles 4:22, "Jokim, and the man of Chozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, which ruled over Moab, and Jashubi-lehem." Kimchi conjectured that כּזבה was the place called כזיב in Genesis 38:5 equals אכזיב, Joshua 15:44, in the low land, where Shelah was born. לחם ישׁבי is a strange name, "which the punctuators would hardly have pronounced in the way they have done if it had not come down to them by tradition" (Berth.). The other names denote heads of families or branches of families, the branches and families being included in them.

(Note: Jerome has given a curious translation of 1 Chronicles 4:22, "et qui stare fecit solem, virique mendacii et securus et incendens, qui principes fuerunt in Moab et qui reversi sunt in Lahem: haec autem verba vetera," - according to the Jewish Midrash, in which למואב בּעלוּ אשׁר was connected with the narrative in the book of Ruth. For יוקים, qui stare fecit solem, is supposed to be Elimelech, and the viri mendacii Mahlon and Chilion, so well known from the book of Ruth, who went with their father into the land of Moab and married Moabitesses.)

Nothing is told us of them beyond what is found in our verses, according to which the four first named ruled over Moab during a period in the primeval time; fir, as the historian himself remarks, "these things are old."

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